Prompted by its upcoming move to a new home at Columbus Circle, the Museum of Arts and Design used packing materials as decor for last Wednesday evening's Visionaries awards gala at Pier Sixty. The striking visuals, crafted by event designer David Stark and reminiscent of the construction theme for a recent Alice Tully Hall gala, also served to complement the unique contributions of the 2007 honorees. The event was overseen by the museum's manager of special events, Stephanie Lang, and her assistant, Morgan Oaks.
Guests, who paid at least $1,000 a seat, walked in to see that Stark had dwarfed the hall with hundreds of cardboard boxes that lined the walls, rose from the tables, and hung from the ceiling. Before the seated dinner and presentation, the cocktail hour gave everyone an opportunity to partake in a silent auction. Displayed below one of the room’s focal points—a giant hammer constructed out of bubble wrap—were jewelry and clothing items up for bid. Descriptions of travel and dining packages for auction were perched on top of packing boxes with signs declaring “Fragile” and “This side up.”
There was no disregard for the theme in the dining area, where a variety of centerpieces rose as high as the ceiling. Some tables featured towers of boxes brimming with packing peanuts threaded into tentacles, or giant arrows wrapped in brown packing paper and tape. Other tables had small bouquets of flowers constructed from brown twine. A band performed at the far end of the room in front of a wall of different-shaped boxes that looked like a busy screen shot from the game Tetris.
Honoring Nadja Swarovski, vice president of international communications for Swarovski Crystal; Dutch designer Marcel Wanders; Frank Doroff, senior executive vice president and general merchandise manager for Bloomingdale’s; and philanthropist Ella Fontanais-Cisneros, the night’s ceremonies also featured a live auction where bidders had the opportunity to win a lunch with Liz Claiborne chief creative officer Tim Gunn (perhaps a fitting auction item, given that much of the decor looked like the result of a Project Runway challenge). Between the auctions, seats, and sponsorships, the 750 guests raised $1.7 million for the museum, topping last year’s record by $200,000.